There are many, and Schrier Law Group would like to reiterate, many COVID-19 lawsuits being filed all around the country. One company in the crosshairs was Tyson Foods. Iowa State and federal legislation has shielded Tyson Foods from a negligence claim filed by a family who says their father contracted COVID-19 at the meatpacker’s Storm Lake, Iowa, pork plant and later died, the company says in new court filings.
Tyson is seeking a dismissal, saying the lawsuit is barred by Iowa’s new COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act and former President Donald Trump’s designation of meatpacking plants as critical infrastructure with a responsibility to continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tyson also contends that the family of Michael Everhard has not proven that he contracted the virus while at work and that the claims should be adjudicated by Iowa’s worker compensation system.
What are the Details?
A 27-year Tyson employee, Everhard, 65, of Fonda, Iowa, died on June 18th, three weeks after being hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19. His family sued Tyson for gross negligence in December, saying that Everhard was forced to work in a confined work environment without proper safety measures while Tyson knew it was not implementing the necessary precautions available to protect workers from the virus.
In its motion to dismiss the suit, Tyson says the issue must be adjudicated through the Iowa Division of Worker’s Compensation and that Everhard’s family is circumventing the process.
The Everhard’s family attorney has said that Tyson can only claim immunity from liability for injuries or death of its employees if worker’s compensation or occupational disease compensation benefits were recoverable by a worker’s family or estate. Tyson has denied that Everhard’s family has a claim for worker’s compensation, he said, so it loses that immunity.
The COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act shields businesses from virus-related lawsuits unless plaintiffs can show a company acted with actual malice and intentionally and recklessly disregarded its workers’ safety.
Tyson’s Court Filings
Tyson said in previous court filings that since the beginning of the pandemic it has followed federal workplace guidelines and has invested millions of dollars to provide workers with safety and risk-mitigation equipment. Tyson, which employs more than 2,300 workers at its Storm Lake turkey and pork processing plants, conducted mass testing of its Storm Lake workers in May, and in June announced that 591 workers at the pork plant there had tested positive for COVID-19.
Tyson said in its dismissal motion that Trump’s declaration of meatpackers as critical infrastructure gave him the discretion to determine the manner, conditions and extent of their operations during a national emergency. That shields the company and others deemed as critical from lawsuits such as Everhard’s, Tyson said, because imposing liability on the company would undermine the emergency declaration.
At least one judge in Iowa has ruled otherwise.
The Schrier Law Group handles many cases. COVID-19 cases are new to the legal world, but Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome in any case (including COVID-19 cases). It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!
Schrier Law Group, as well as all of America, is paying attention to the lawsuits that are popping up due to COVID-19. One of the lawsuits getting the most reporting is about an employee at a Publix supermarket in Miami-Dade county Florida, that was allegedly prohibited from wearing a mask at work. Now his family is suing Publix over his death.
The coronavirus had already made its way to the US by the time Gerardo Gutierrez, 70, asked his employer if he’d be permitted to wear a face mask while he worked. Despite the fact that his deli counter co-worker was showing signs of the illness as they worked together on March 27th and 28th, Publix told him that masks were not allowed because they may “scare” customers, the family’s lawyer has claimed.
About a month later, Gutierrez died alone in a hospital from complications related to COVID-19. His family was forced to say their goodbyes over a video call.
“A Devastating Loss”
The co-worker has recovered, and Publix later reversed course on their maskless rule on April 20th, according to Publix’s website. However, a Tampa Bay Times report on April 30th showed the supermarket chain had yet to consistently adopt a mask policy, lagging behind their competitors at the time.
So the family filed a suit alleging the Florida-based company had acted with negligence. Lawyers for the Gutierrez family say Publix should be held accountable. They’re asking for more than $30,000 in damages. The lawsuit also cites multiple complaints submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the grocer prohibiting masks and gloves earlier this year.
Gutierrez’s daughter Ariane, 43, called the passing a “devastating loss”.
Publix could not be reached for comment by multiple news outlets.
What are the Details?
Gutierrez arrived at work on March 27th and 28th to find his co-worker exhibiting symptoms of the COVID-19 illness. The company lifted their ban on some types of face coverings by April 30th, after refusing to allow Gutierrez the same, because deli workers were reportedly still prohibited from wearing them, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
On April 2nd, Gutierrez was sent home to isolate following the co-worker’s positive test results confirming they’d been infected with the coronavirus.
By April 6th, Gutierrez had a cough and fever. At the same time, Publix finally announced that all employees could wear surgical or reusable cloth masks.
It was too late for Gutierrez, who wound up passing away on April 28th.
The news isn’t good for other “essential businesses”. Walmart as well as Tyson Foods face lawsuits by employees over coronavirus deaths. Anticipating more, federal and Florida lawmakers have debated legislation to prevent workers from suing their employers if they contract COVID-19 on the job.
Something is going to happen one way or another because as long as Covid-19 sticks around, these lawsuits are going to follow.
The Schrier Law Group handles many wrongful death cases. Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome in your case. It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!